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  • Matt Kinniburgh



"In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth, a town in Galilee, to a virgin pledged to be married to a man named Joseph, a descendant of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. The angel went to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favoured! The Lord is with you.”

Mary was greatly troubled at his words and wondered what kind of greeting this might be. But the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favour with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.”

“How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?”

The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called[b] the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.”

“I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May your word to me be fulfilled.” Then the angel left her. "

Luke 1:26-38


It had been a long bedtime, my two year old daughter just couldn’t fall asleep. She’d get drowsy but every time it seemed like her eyes would finally close they’d pop open once again. It had been so long that all of the regular songs had been sung and so I asked her what song she’d like me to sing. She responded with O Come All Ye Faithful, which wouldn’t have been strange if it was December or maybe early January, but it was mid-March. Strange…but ok. When bedtime has been this long you do whatever it takes.

I got through the first, third, and sixth verses - the ones we’d sing in church growing up. The ones that had imprinted themselves on my mind. But she still wasn’t asleep, so I took out my phone and looked up the song to see if there were more stanza’s. That’s when I came across the second verse which sings,

True God of true God, Light from Light Eternal,

lo, he shuns not the Virgin's womb;

Son of the Father, begotten not created

This verse quotes an ancient Christian creed, the Nicene Creed, which states that Jesus is “God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made.” The Nicene Creed was written after the church had argued about the nature of the incarnation of Christ, and what it meant for Christ to be fully God and fully man. He’s true God, he’s light from light. This speaks to his divinity. But something incredible happened in the incarnation - he didn’t shun the Virgin’s womb.

Jesus didn’t stand apart from our humanity, he’s not detached from its reality, which is how we might think the divine would behave if he came to us. This idea is part of centuries of wrestling with the nature of the incarnation. It was too difficult for some to grasp that Christ would enter into our humanity.

The good news of Christmas is that Jesus sees all the pain, confusion, and mess of our humanity and he doesn’t stand apart from it. No, he enters right into it. He becomes one of us and joins right in. On top of that he’s not born in a sterile hospital room, or the pomp and circumstance of a palace. No, he’s born in the squalor of a barn, placed in a manger.

His divinity does not require his separation from our humanity.

Jesus comes to us as a baby, and the incredible thing is it doesn’t make him any less divine. He’s still fully God as well as now being fully human. Which should make your head hurt if you think about it for too long. Into the reality of our humanity Jesus steps right in, takes it on himself, and comes with peace. Where we are troubled like Mary, Jesus through his presence brings us peace.

During Advent we remember the peace that Jesus brought in his incarnation, and we look forward to the peace he will bring at his return. And we also invite his peace today wherever we are troubled, remembering his words in John 14:27, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”


Praying through Song

Watch Jill Philips and Andrew Peterson's music video for Labour of Love. As you listen, picture the reality and humanity of Jesus’ birth.

It was not a silent night

There was blood on the ground

You could hear a woman cry

In the alleyways that night

On the streets of David's town

And the stable was not clean

And the cobblestones were cold

And little Mary full of grace

With the tears upon her face

Had no mother's hand to hold

It was a labor of pain

It was a cold sky above

But for the girl on the ground in the dark

With every beat of her beautiful heart

It was a labor of love

Noble Joseph by her side

Callused hands and weary eyes

There were no midwives to be found

On the streets of David's town

In the middle of the night

So he held her and he prayed

Shafts of moonlight on his face

But the baby in her womb

He was the maker of the moon

He was the Author of the faith

That could make the mountains move

It was a labor of pain

It was a cold sky above

But for the girl on the ground in the dark

With every beat of her beautiful heart

It was a labor of love

For little Mary full of grace

With the tears upon her face

It was a labor of love

Visio Divina

This practice is similar to Lectio Divina, but instead of meditating on Scripture its mediating on a work of art and asking God to speak to you through it. Throughout history, art has been a primary way of communicating the truth of the gospel - especially in times when the Scriptures weren’t readily available to everyone.  

Image Credit | Scott Erickson

  1. Take some time to be still before Jesus, invite his peace and ask him to show you what he wants you to see.  

  2. Study the image, what thoughts and feelings are coming to mind, what might the image be saying to you.  

  1. Consider what God may be saying to you through the image, ask him to draw your eyes, heart, and imagination to something in it.  

  1. Respond in prayer resting in God’s presence. 



PRAY | God you are with me and I trust you to be my peace.

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